The curtain rose on third-, fourth- and fifth-graders from Clark's Hehnly Elementary School on Wednesday night for the premiere of this year's play, "Annie Jr."
Three different Annies (Briana Louro, Maria Sieira and Hanna Campiglia) took turns in the spotlight, beside two Oliver Warbucks (Jack Hall and Eric Melao). Allyson Renda and Melissa Lettieri played the testy caretaker Miss Hannigan, alongside orphans played by Marisa Brady, Victoria Torres, Isabella Venezio, Alyssa Colicchio, Jenna Thornton and Nicole Pecoraro. Jessica King and Julia Huff switched off in the role of Grace Farrell. The play was directed by Hehnly teachers Jamey Vavra and Laura Venezio.
More than 100 students auditioned for the play this year and all who tried out participated, according to Venezio. Those in the spotlight couldn't have gotten there without the 50 other students who served as scene painters and stage crew.
"I picked 'Annie' because it was always my favorite when I was a kid and I thought the students would love it just as much," Venezio told Patch. "They worked so hard, many of them with a lot of lines to memorize. We started way back in November with practices twice a week. The response has been great and everyone is asking me what we'll perform next year. I'm so proud of these students."
Full disclosure: Clark-Garwood Patch editor Jessica Remo is the (very proud) sister of co-director Laura Venezio and aunt of cast members Isabella and Victoria Venezio.